“Compliments of Lambton Hotel”
Lambton House has been tied to this Royal phenomenon by two unique collectables – an earthenware cup and saucer, and a plate with Royal family decorative art. The plate depicts the Royal couple, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, with a crown, flags, and an English rose on the front with the trademark on the bottom. There is an inscription that reads “Compliments of Lambton Hotel” on the back. They were likely commissioned by Louis Epstein, proprietor, through a Toronto china and glass merchant to celebrate the 1937 Coronation and the 1939 Royal Tour. The plate is said to be a gift to the tavern’s cook, Mrs. Smith.
As the first of its kind, the event was of great historical significance and commemorated with souvenirs. In 1939, the most popular souvenir items were mugs, cups, and saucers, usually printed on poor to fair quality low firing clay. Images from the King's Coronation were often re-used. This popular priced consumer china was sometimes given away at movie theatres or by local businesses. Finer pieces are rare. The Lambton House china set is one of the more affordable souvenirs.
George VI visits Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, for the King's Plate on May 22nd, 1939. The King's Plate is an annual Thoroughbred Race. The 80th King's Plate, pictured here, was attended by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their tour. This was the first time in history the race had been visited by the King or Queen. Now the race takes place at the new Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke.
A Royal Connection
The Royal Visit of 1939 made citizens want to show their loyalty to the British Crown. The visit was carefully planned to create support for Britain. Politics were difficult in Europe and many people recognized that World War II was about to happen. Lambton Hotel had a unique connection to the Crown through the Lieutenant Governors, which represent Their Majesties.
Sir William Pearce Howland served as the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, beginning in 1868. A Father of Confederation, he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1879. Howland leased and purchased property on the Humber River and renamed Coopers Mills “Lambton Mills” in honour of John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham.
Thank you to Heritage York, and especially to Paivi Evars for the poster design, for their support and help in creating this exhibition.
Special thanks to Joy Cohnstaedt for both her work and guidance in making this exhibition possible.
My sincere appreciation to Peter Kaellgren, Curator Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum, for lending his expertise and knowledge.
Thank you to Emily Flynn for donating her time to help photograph the souvenir collection.
Finally, thank you to the Toronto Public Library and the Canada Post Corporation for their contributions to this exhibition.
Lambton House Coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth commemorative earthenware plate circa 1937 donated by Anne Shaw Kyle to Heritage York, 2017
Lambton House Coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth commemorative earthenware cup and saucer circa 1939 donated by Des Ellis to Heritage York, 2019
Master of Museum Studies
University of Toronto
Graduate Intern, 2020
This exhibition was curated and designed by Alynese Nightingale for Heritage York, 2020.